Haley Tew grew up in a small midwestern town of 3,000, where there were no landscape architects. A craving for the big city and sunshine brought her to Arizona. At Arizona State University, an interior design professor recognized Tew's interest in designing outdoor spaces, and helped her develop an interdisciplinary degree in landscape architecture and interior design.
After graduation, Tew went to work for Tempe-based Logan Simpson, where she earned credentials as a LEED Associated Professional from the U.S. Green Building Council.
And then the recession hit.
There was little demand for landscape architects, so Tew went to work for two years selling landscape rocks.
“I had never sold a thing in my life and sales terrified me,” she recalls.
The job taught her how to sell, but mostly how to build personal relationships with customers.
“If you can sell rocks, you can sell just about anything,” she says, laughing.
Tew eventually went to work for a local design-build firm, Creative Environments.
“I learned everything I could about design-build from a residential point of view. I was soon managing projects independently.”
During this time, she married and became mom to four little ones. But she really wanted to strike out on her own.
“One day, I resigned from my career,” she explains.
Her husband Tyler, a commercial airline pilot, supported her decision.
“I had a condo that I kept as a rental property,” she says. “I sold the condo and started Lavender Landscape in May 2019.”
She received her registration of contractors license as both a designer and contractor.
“I did everything except the labor right out of the gate.”
She laughs, thinking about those first months.
“I was literally the delivery girl during the week, dropping off materials at construction sites. I had one little crew do the work on the weekends.”
Lavender Landscape grew quickly, but that original crew remains with her today.
“The key to building a company is all about the relationships with the people doing the hard work,” she explains.
She went on to hire a team of designers and a second crew.
Lavender grew steadily throughout 2019. Tew focused on keeping her client list small.
“In the mass production space, you have to work with every home buyer that comes through the door. I wanted to eliminate that and to serve the clients I chose well.”
Again, she knew the key was always in the relationships.
Then the pandemic hit. As people found themselves home more often, they reached out for better backyards. Tew could relate to that.
“As a mom of four, my favorite times are in the backyard, messing around with the kids,” she says.
Pre-pandemic, clients often felt driven by impressing others. Tew says that's changed.
“People are just wanting to connect,” she explains. “People want to have group activities that actually mean something. They want spaces to enjoy.”
She says this has been the driving force in recent trends. Clients used what would have been vacation money to create a great outdoor living space.
“I had so many people saying, ‘We want to do the spa. Go ahead and add the slide.’ It is all very family-focused.”
A modern farmhouse feel is popular.
“They want the picket fence. Lush green areas. Wood. Black. White. Weathered brick. Green without tons of colors. White florals are popular.”
She says everyone wants an edible garden, and suddenly creative pools are in demand.
As a boutique firm, Lavender Landscape gives every client the proper attention.
“We get in there during the design and live in your space before you do.”
Tew says they consider everything—the lighting, cooling down a structure, creating spaces that speak to the family.
“We are designers. Our wheelhouse is doing things your landscaper can’t do. When you hire us, it is a design process."
That process requires a lot of energy and production time, resulting in a design presentation Tew describes as wow.
“Your property deserves our attention,” she says, explaining why they charge a design fee. “We will design it out and you can take the design and bid it out for construction. But, when we do the construction, we refund the design fee.
“We love our clients sending pictures of their families enjoying the spaces we’ve designed for them. It’s not about getting design accolades,” Tew explains, despite the fact that they have those, as well. “It’s about facilitating the enjoyment of your life outdoors.” LavenderLandscape.com